What will the new year bring? What is for sure is that children and young people will be impacted through the Hope Academy program. Coaches will be trained and equipped to be father figures on and off the field. Pray with us for God's guidance and blessings in 2014. May he be at work in and through all of us!
Looking back - 2013
In October we had two amazing Training events in Hope Academy Drakenstein Prison of several days duration. Through 'The world needs a father' and 'Coaching for Life' Training, young offenders have been equipped as future Fathers, Coaches and positive Role Models in their communities once they are released.
The participants engagement and response was absolutely great! 30 guys listening, absorbing and asking great questions. Men who all committed serious crimes in the past asking now: How do you as a man treat a woman? How do I teach my children to treat the opposite sex? And our favorite: How do we as fathers in the house become to fathers to the world?
At the same time Coaches and Children were working hard on and of the field in Hope Academy Soweto. Young kids becoming greater players and personalities. Let's have a closer look at one of them:
Thabiso is 10 years old. He lost his mother in 2008 and has never known his father. Thabiso currently lives with his aunt and four cousins in a small shack in Soweto. No one is employed in his home and the family lives off a social grant from the Government. Despite this, he has made huge progress since joining the Soweto Hope Academy in April 2010. He has received 6 awards for academic progress in school and is also showing great potential on the soccer field. The Academy coaches play a significant role in his life as he has no father or male role model to support him. The Academy is also committed to developing him holistically until he leaves school and working alongside his family. With no regular intervention from positive role models, Thabiso would be in danger of making poor choices later in his life. Through long term intervention and mentoring we are giving Thabiso the best opportunity to be successful in the future.
Looking at these stories, we know: There is true hope possible even in the most difficult circumstances.
Thank you for making life changes possible!
We have 3 new faces doing the work in Prison since July 1st. We are so excited to welcome back Juju Tabata to the team working in the prison. He was a member of the team that helped to start the work in 2009. He now acts as the Technical adviser and coach to the team. He also works with the boys 3 times a week in the areas of Football - Faith - Future.
Ben Marais joined Ambassadors in Sport in July as the new National Director and is currently also involved in the prison work. Ben currently acts as the Academy Director and visits the boys once per week to inspire and motivate them, as well as providing spritual and life skill guidance as Pastor and lifecoach.
Rahel Hagemaier joined Ben at Ambassadors and currently acts as the administrative assistant. She started as a German intern who has joined Ambassadors full time since August.
As you know we invest a lot into the boys during their time in the prison, as well as helping them once they get out, to reajust to life on the outside. Looking forward we want to equip them on the inside to become football coaches that focus on coaching life through sport. We believe that by doing this they are able to impact their communities once they leave prison. We are looking into a few exciting partnership to help us in bridging the gap between life on the inside and the outside reality awaiting them. For this we need your continued support, as a halfway house would help us the assist them in making a smoother transition. More to follow in the next update.
We are running a training in October in adressing the impact of fatherlessness on them and training them to become father figures / rolemodels through understanding the roles of a father. Fatherlessness is one of the main reasons many of them find themselfes in the prison.
We have 3 boys that have graduated from the academy on parole in the last month, and we are assisting them in reajusting, finding work and being the change agents that they have become through their time in the academy.
Thank you for your continued support.
The past couple of months have been encouraging for us as we continue to reach young men in prison, and mentor our graduates who have been released.
The prison program continues to go well and we have had quite a few of our young men released back into society. This includes our longest serving member Edward who had been in Hope Academy for the past four years. It was an emotional time saying goodbye to Edwards from the program, however we were excited for him as he had been given a place at a halfway home that one of the wardens in the prison runs. Additionally alongside this warden we sought permission from the prison for Edward to return to the prison daily to finish his school in the prison school system. Edward would of struggled to get into another educational system once released and this was a big answer to our prayers. We have visited Edward since his release and it is encouraging to see him flourish.
Another encouragment was when we heard that three of our graduates Chris, Bongani and Andile had set up a nonprofit called 'We've Been There'. This is an initiative they came up with by themselves and we were invited to their launch two weeks ago at a school in one of the townships in Cape Town. It was a special moment to see the three of them speak to 120 children and warn them about the dangers of crime, gangs and drugs. This is a result of one of the things we teach the young men in prison, the importance of using their lives and stories so that children in their communities don't make the same mistakes.
As many of our young men have left prison we have started doing trials in the prison and looking at other players to join the team. The prison we are working will become the U21 juvenile centre in the Western Cape, at the moment we are a centre that takes juveniles from 18-25 but this will change. We are registering in the winter league with an external football association which helps bring motivation to the offenders. We are excited about getting in some new players and impacting their lives and offering them hope.
Thanks for all your continued support to the program.
A very Happy New Year to you all. Firstly we would like to thank you for all your support to the prison work over 2012. We expierenced some great breakthroughs during the year such as the team being registered and playing in an outside league for the first time and many of our graduates contributing to community projects in Cape Town.
At the end of the program last year we ran a few events that were significant to the program. Firstly we ran a graduation reunion where 18 of our graduates gathered together and climbed Lions Head Mountain. It was the first time that any of our young men had climbed this Cape Town landmark and illustrated that many underpriveledged youth don't get opportunities to enjoy the beaufiful surroundings in Cape Town.
The second event we ran was our end of year awards ceremony. This was a fantastic event and we invited 20 of our graduates to attend the event. Awards were handed out for young men in the prison program that had excelled in their football, character and education. The young men in prison then played a match against the prison graduates which ended in a 1:1 draw. It was a great encouragement to see the young men released from prison coming back and offering encouragement and support the young men in the Academy.
One of our young men who left prison and graduated from the program in 2011 was Zola Goboza. Zola was captain of the Academy from 2009-2011 and became a strong leader and role model to the other prisoners. Zola is now working for the local council in one of the townships and says he is using all the skills he learnt as captain in prison to deal with people in his community. This kind of story and example offers so much hope to the young men in prison as they see one young man who used to be in a cell with them making good decisions and a positive life for himself outside.
In 2013 we will continue to support the prison authotiries in running the program as well as supporting the young men who were released from prison. On February the 9th we will be running the "Freedom Run" a 10K run that starts in the prison to celebrate Nelson Mandelas release and walk to freedom. We will be doing this run with some of our graduates to raise awareness for the program, please consider supporting us by making a donation (any amount) and we will give a report in our next newsletter.
Thanks for all your support - we appreciate your partnership in transforming young lives through using football in South Africa.
Thanks for your support to our work amongst juvenile offenders in South Africa. We continue to be excited about the program and the progress that is being made in the lives of many of the inmates we work with.
This year we made a breakthrough by being able to register the Hope Academy team in a South African Football Association league. I believe this is the first ever prison team in the country to be involved in an external Football Association. This enabled the team to play away games in the community and to also share their stories of change and transformation. The great news is that the team won the league undefeated! We have now been promoted to the promotional league which is very competitive but will be a great platofrm for us to reach outside of the prison and showcase the Hope Academy project.
We are so encouraged by the progress many of our prison graduates are making. Here are a couple of updates on young men who are excelling since being released.
Nkosinathi - Nkosinathi comes from a very poor background in Guguletu township, we were concerned about his welfare when he was released as his mother is an alcoholic and drinks throughout the day. One day he took us to the Shebeen (township bar) where his mother spends most of her time. It was so sad to see a woman so broken and addicted to alcohol. Nkosinathi took us to his house where he is staying with his aunt and to his bedroom where he shares one bed with four cousins. The bed was falling apart and proped up by an old box - he looked at me and said "coach life is better in prison". It was hard for me to give a response. In spite of all of this Nkosinathi was determined to get his life back on track, we spent a good few years with him in prison and preping him for situations like this. Through his determination and perserverance he managed to find employment at a resturant in one of the more affluent suburbs. This was a massive breakthrough as unemployment in the townships can be as high as 85% and then adding a criminal record makes it even harder. We continue to support Nkosinathi and follow him up reguarly.
Simphiwe - Simphiwe was a 28 gang member in prison but turned his life around whilst in the program. Once released he was accepted into a half way home through one of our partners. His community background and environment was terrrible and very dangerous, recently his brother was mugged and shot dead in broad daylight where he lives. Thankfully the opportunity to be out of his environment has given Simphiwe the opportunity to go to college and grow. He recently spoke at an event (see link below) we hosted for an organization in prison. One member of the audience was the MD of Toyota and was so impressed with his story that he invited him to come and share it with all his staff. He also spoke to Simphiwe about offering him a job once he has finished his studies. We are so thankful for what is happening in Simphiwe's life.
Additionally have invited some of our graduates to be involved in our community projects. Last week we had two graduates Unathi and Bongani come and help us coach on a week long soccer camp we ran in Cape Town. These two young men were outstanding and made a big impact on many kids lives. The dream we have is to employ young men like this to help run our community projects in the future. They can become the role models and leaders for the next generation of youth, their stories can make a significant impact on young people's lives.
Over the next month we have a number of events planned for the prison work. Firstly we will be having our end of year graduation for the Hope Academy program. We will also be having a reunion event for all our graduates and plan to climb table mountain. Even though all our graduates live in Cape Town not one of them has climbed the mountain!!
So thanks for your contnued support. We would love you to consider supporting this work further and backing us in this project. We are seeing great breakthroughs but can't continue to do it without your help.
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AIS SA Director